Music Review: Jim Dorie - Drop Forge

Folk music is a tough style to pin down these days, as you have lots of artists being called that, yet they use layers of sound effects from the studio, and have thoroughly modern attitudes. Some still prefer the classic way though, a guitar and a pen and stories about, you know, folk they know, and history and geography, the stuff of where you live. I don't think Jim Dorie would mind being called a folk musician. The New Glasgow, Nova Scotia native writes about all those traditional things, and has a deep appreciation of where he comes from, the people around him, and the people who came before. His songs, for the most part, are set here in the Maritimes, whether true or made up. He brings these stories to life, and leaves you with a bigger and better appreciation of your neck of the woods.

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Dorie came to music later in life, after raising a family and working in industry, he finally followed his dream four years ago, and started getting his songs out there. There was immediate interest, and he's already come up with three full albums. The new one is called Drop Forge, and shows the level he quickly leaped to. It's produced by his friend and sometime writing partner Dave Gunning, and features contributions from the supreme bluegrass fiddler and mandolinist Ray Legere, guitar from Thom Swift and several other fine players. But it's Dorie's songs that star here. He has a down home voice which immediately suggests classic folk, and his story songs are captivating.

The first cut, The Bell, is pure history, about the sinking of the HMCS Esquimalt near Halifax Harbour, a shocker just a few days before the end of World War II, when no-one thought German U-boats were still around. Told from the view of a survivor, it brings up the many questions about the delayed rescue and the high number of casualties. The title cut, Drop Forge, tells part of the story of the Trenton, Nova Scotia, iron and steel operations, when the huge drop forge used to make railroad cars was shut down, a deafening silence to the generations who lived there.

I like those history songs, but Dorie knows how to spill modern stories too, and make them just as important. His My Girl sure isn't the soft, beautiful romance of the Temptations song of the same name. This one drives a red Corvette, smokes and swears, gambles and flirts, but as Dorie points out, well-behaved women rarely make history.

Dorie's coming to play New Brunswick soon. He'll be at Plan B in Moncton on June 24, and in August, he's one of the featured performers at the Larlee Creek Hullaballoo festival in Perth-Andover.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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